Good is the Enemy of Great

“Good is the enemy of great”
     We must set high standards for the Lord’s work. This has become an obsession of mine. We cannot settle for less than the best. We cannot settle for good when God asks for our best. The proclamation of the gospel demands excellence. Anything less demeans the church of Jesus Christ.

     This striving for excellence must be seen in everything from cared-for buildings and manicured lawns to well-written and produced brochures and other printed materials.

     The practice of ministry also requires excellence. Excellence in ministry and programs demand both paid staff and gifted volunteers. Neither can be neglected. Growing excellence in ministry will require that we continually add to our paid staff and equip volunteers. In fact, research by the Alban Institute, a non-profit that studies congregational vitality, indicates that a church is optimally staffed when it has one full-time paid professional staff person for every one hundred persons in worship. Naturally, whenever a church seeks to move toward this model, financial resources must be available. That requires that a church culture of generosity be continually cultivated.

     Why one professional staff for every one hundred in worship? Volunteers alone cannot sustain excellence over a period of time. It is in the very nature of the word volunteer. Volunteers provide ministry leadership after hours from their “real” jobs. Persons may be retired but have other responsibilities. Volunteers may be parents and have sports events, rehearsals and other activities that require their time. Volunteers alone simply cannot sustain consistent excellence in the long haul.

     The ability of volunteers may also be less than what is expected or required for excellence and the ministry suffers. Paid staff receives consistent and ongoing training, performance objectives and supervision. Accountability to the Personnel Committee and Session raises the bar of performance. 

     I count it a great privilege to be the pastor of this congregation. As we move toward greater and greater excellence in ministry together, I continue to share here, and in other places, what moving from good to great will require.

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